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Legion of deer hunters will face challenges; Wisconsinites reflect on JFK; more state briefs

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Hundreds-of-thousands of deer hunters will hit the woods in Wisconsin Saturday, starting a nine-day gun season that poses a number of challenges. First, it's a later season than usual -- and the DNR's Kevin Wallenfang says it could mean less rutting activity.

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He says many areas as fairly wet, and that could limit hunters' access. Also, Wallenfang says the deer will have lot more room to hide, because about 40 percent of the state's corn crop is still standing due to a late planting.

This fall's bow hunting harvest is lower in the north, because lots of deer could not survive the long winter from a year ago.

The current weather is not helping, either. Much of the state's mid-section received its first real snow cover this week -- but a lot of it's gone, as daytime temperatures continue to rise above freezing. That won't be the case this weekend, though. Highs Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be in the teens and 20's statewide with wind-chill factors near zero in some areas.

Deer hunters had good success a year ago. Bow hunters took a record number of bucks, and gun hunters shot their highest buck totals since 2007. A total of 368-thousand deer was taken in 2012, more than each of the previous three years.

Act 10-related contempt charge against commission dropped

MADISON -- A state commission is no longer in contempt-of-court for moving forward with re-certification votes for local government and school unions.

The State Supreme Court removed the contempt order Thursday on a 5 to 2 vote.

The majority said only the Supreme Court could issue such an order, and the contempt ruling interferes with the court's effort to decide whether Act 10 is constitutional.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas recently put the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in contempt for proceeding with the re-certification parts of the Act 10 bargaining limits. That was after Colas struck down the law for local- and school unions.

Thursday's ruling did not address Colas' decision that Act 10 is unconstitutional for all but the state government.

The Supreme Court is expected to take months to review that question, after it heard oral arguments earlier this month. Union attorney Lester Pines said the state is still banned from holding the re-certification votes, since Act 10 remains unconstitutional for local-and-school groups.

If the state moves forward with the election, Pines said "We'll take steps."

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen did not say what the commission would do next. He said he was pleased that the contempt order was vacated.

The state contends that the bargaining law is only unconstitutional for the two unions that filed suit in the case -- the Madison teachers, and a Milwaukee city union.

Retired prof certain whole JFK plot not yet told; more reflections 50 years later

On this 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination, a retired UW Stevens Point professor remains convinced that we don't know the truth of what happened.

David Wrone has spent most of his life researching the death of the former president, who was shot in a motorcade in Dallas. Wrone, who retired from UW-Stevens Point two decades ago, has written books about the Kennedy assassination. He doesn't buy the story that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman.

Wrone tells WSAU Radio in Wausau that the evidence linking Oswald "cannot stand the scrutiny of objectivity, and more than that, the evidence is such that more than two people shot him." Wrone said he doesn't know who did it, but he knows the bullets came from the front and back. He said none of the shots came from Oswald, as proven by paraffin wax tests from his cheeks. The federal Warren Commission discounted theories that one or more people beside Oswald shot Kennedy, but Wrone said the commission's report contained mostly useless information not pertinent to the Kennedy shooting. He said the full story could still be hidden in 11,000 folders at the National Archives that have never been released.

Wrone said about 500 legal cases were filed to uncover those records -- and while many documents have been released, there are still some left.

Wrone also disputes a recent book about the assassination by Bill O'Reilly of Fox News. He said the book has a lot of speculation, and he calls O'Reilly a "junior Keystone cop."

Meanwhile, the day of JFK's assassination remains frozen in time for many Wisconsinites.

Marge Koenig of Wittenberg was living in Milwaukee with her four children. She said she couldn't believe what she was seeing when the news came on TV. Koenig said churches throughout Milwaukee opened their doors -- and she went to a service thinking "What else could you do?"

The old Milwaukee Journal reported on a late afternoon mass where Marquette professor Cyril McKinnon called it a "black Friday in the history of the United States. He said President Kennedy was the "personification of (people's) ideals, the center of the hope and faith in a better world."

The Journal said Milwaukee's pace dropped to a crawl as cabs stood idle, people walked slowly, and there were no lineups at theater box offices that were normal for a Friday night. Koenig was among the thousands who wrote to Kennedy's widow Jackie -- and the former First Lady wrote back, thanking Koenig for her thoughts. Koenig's sister now has that letter. She says the Kennedy assassination is something that always stay with you.

Marquette prof surprised by a lack of factory job growth

MILWAUKEE -- A Marquette economics professor says he's surprised by a lack of new jobs in Wisconsin factories.

Abdur Chowdhury said manufacturing has to be a key player in the state's recovery from the recession but state officials said Thursday that Wisconsin lost 119 manufacturing jobs during the year ending in June, when almost 24,000 other jobs were created statewide.

Chowdhury says Wisconsin needs a strong manufacturing sector because it generally provides good-paying jobs, especially of the three-fourths of workers without four-year college degrees. Dale Knapp of the Wisconsin Taxpayers' Alliance says the slow growth is troubling, but it's not new. He said there's been a slowdown in factory job growth for about the last year. That was after Wisconsin out-performed other states in new manufacturing jobs during 2010 and 2011.

Construction had the highest rate of growth over the past year. The state added 5,300 construction posts, which reflects the continued growth in the housing market. State officials said the year-to-year figure of 24,000 jobs was based on a nearly complete survey of employers.

Those numbers will be used when Wisconsin is compared to other states in a quarterly report due out Dec. 18th.

Jury awards $39 million in teen's freak parking ramp death

MILWAUKEE -- A jury in Milwaukee has awarded $39 million in damages for a freak incident at a downtown parking ramp that killed a teenager three and a half years ago.

After hearing five weeks of testimony, jurors found the Random Lake firm of Advance Cast Stone mainly responsible for the death of 15-year-old Jared Kellner and injuries to two others.

The company installed a decorative concrete panel that fell from the second floor of the O'Donnell Park ramp, with the three victims right below it as they were heading to Summerfest.

The ramp's owner, Milwaukee County, was awarded $6 million dollars for the repairs it had to make. The victims' awards were for injuries, pain-and-suffering, and emotional distress. Advance Cast Stone was also told to pay $15 million dollars in punitive damages. The company was found 88 percent at fault. A construction management firm was found 10 percent liable, and it reached a settlement with the plaintiffs earlier. Milwaukee County was found 2 percent at fault.

Issues remain over insurance coverage. Those issues will be explored during a court hearing on Monday.

Walker predicts Hillary Clinton as next Democratic presidential nominee

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Gov. Scott Walker told a conservative forum in Washington that Republicans need to attract "persuadable" voters by doing more to address their concerns -- like fixing the economy.

Walker was the headliner at a meeting of the American Enterprise Institute, where he was interviewed by the co-author of his new book, Marc Thiessen.

The Republican governor said voters are more interested in leaders who make bold promises and keep them -- instead of being swept up in partisan politics. That's how Walker explained why both he and Democratic President Obama attracted many of the same voters in recent years.

Walker said Obama's mistake was to base too many decisions on politics. In the end, he says a leader's policies have to work.

Walker also addressed the 2016 presidential race, which he's thinking about entering. He repeated his recent comments that Republicans need to put up a governor with no ties to a federal government that voters have soured on.

Walker also expects Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic presidential nominee, calling her a product of Washington "for decades."

Viterbo will provide paid internships for business students

LA CROSSE -- A Wisconsin Catholic college says it will guarantee that all business students will get paid for their internships, starting next fall.

Viterbo University of La Crosse made the announcement Thursday. More businesses require students to work for free to get experience while in school.

Business school dean Tom Knothe said students should not have to choose between making money, and preparing for careers.

Viterbo requires business students to complete internships. About 70 percent of them came with wages last year.

Viterbo has over 2,800 students at campuses in La Crosse, West Allis, and Des Moines.

The school says it has grants to pay students who work in non-profit groups that cannot afford to hire interns.

Former Grantsburg teacher charged with abusing students

STILLWATER, Minn. -- A former teacher in northwest Wisconsin is charged with having sex with students at his home in Minnesota.

Washington County prosecutors filed two counts of third-degree criminal sex assault Thursday against 36-year-old Matthew Koenen of Stillwater.

Authorities said Koenen had relationships with several female students at Grantsburg High School in person, through text messages, and on the Internet.

Officials said it led to Koenen's sexual activity at his home, where he allegedly had sex with one student while his child was taking a nap. That reportedly happened in August of 2012. Koenen quit his teaching post at Grantsburg after the school district learned of the allegations. He was not in custody at last word.

-- Minnesota News Network

Apparent murder-suicide occurs in law office

OREGON -- Autopsies were scheduled Friday for an elderly couple killed in a murder-suicide near Oregon in Dane County.

Sheriff's officials said a legal client and his girlfriend walked into a law office Thursday and began arguing. The 68-year-old man then reportedly pulled a gun, shot his 63-year-old girlfriend, and then shot himself to death.

The law office also served as a residence, and the two people who lived there were not hurt.

Both people killed were from Madison. Their names were not immediately released.

Man dies in house fire, just before expected eviction

MOUNT PLEASANT -- A man who died in a Racine County house fire just hours before he was to be evicted was identified as 62-year-old Dennis "Butch" Radford of Mount Pleasant.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation, but Mount Pleasant police say they're treating it as a crime scene until it's proven otherwise.

Sheriff's officials were planning to serve an eviction notice at the house Thursday morning. The Racine Journal Times said the house was being foreclosed upon, and its ownership was transferred last month to a suburban Chicago investment firm.

Firefighters could not immediately recover Radford's body due to the structural damage. They saw his body lying on a basement floor.

The state Fire Marshal's office and the Racine County Arson Task Force are among those investigating.

Man pleads innocent in 5-year-old's death

OREGON -- A Dane County man has pleaded innocent to causing the death of his girlfriend's five-year-old son.

Dakota Black, 24, of Oregon was arraigned Thursday on a charge of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Brayden Turnbill in late October.

Authorities said Black and his girlfriend Sharon Turnbill were staying at her cousin's house in Sun Prairie when Turnbill came home from work and found her son having a hard time breathing.

It was later learned that the child died from blunt-force trauma to the head.

A detective testified that Black was the only adult who was home when Brayden collapsed -- but Black denied hurting the boy.

Brayden died at a hospital two days after the incident.

Plea deal expected in former Rhinelander teacher's drug case

RHINELANDER -- A plea deal has been set for a former Rhinelander High School teacher charged with seven drug-and-theft-related counts.

Joshua Juergens waived a preliminary hearing Thursday in Oneida County Circuit Court. Attorneys on both sides said the 35-year-old Juergens would enter a plea on Dec, 5th, with sentencing possible the same day.

Juergens was arrested earlier this month after computer equipment was missing from Rhinelander High. A search warrant was obtained for the defendant's home, and police said they found 66 marijuana plants in a growing operation -- along with illegal prescription drugs and paraphernalia.

The Rhinelander School Board fired Juergens on Monday night. He was hired last fall as an English teacher.

The superintendent recently said school officials were never made aware of some of Juergens past criminal charges, driver license suspensions, and small claims judgments against him.

-- Ken Krall, WXPR, Rhinelander

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Steve Dzubay
Steve Dzubay has been publisher at the River Falls Journal and Hudson Star Observer since 1995. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. He previously worked as a reporter-photographer at small daily newspapers in Minnesota and is past editor of the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal.
(715) 426-1054
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